This weekend, Flea and I headed out to Delamere Forest in Cheshire for a day’s adventure at Go Ape, a bit of belated training for some work we’re doing with Robinson’s Fruit Shoot, who invited Flea to become part of their Adventure Squad.
As an Adventure Squad member, Flea was also invited to take part in the junior version of Tough Mudder – Mini Mudder – in London last week. More on that in a future post!
We’ve been to Go Ape three times before, always to Grizedale, but this time we opted for somewhere new, and headed South to Delamere Forest, bringing along Flea’s friend Jenny for the day. It’s a lovely spot with its own Forest Holidays!
It was a BIG day for Flea because at 10, and over 140cm, she is finally big enough to do the full Go Ape Treetop Adventure (rather than the Junior Treetop Adventure which is for kids aged 6 and up). It’s a little more expensive – the cost for two children and one adult was £82, although we had a voucher to cover some of the cost.
One thing to note is that if kids under 16 do the full course here, they MUST be accompanied by a participating adult. Which means that – joy of joys – I spent my Saturday trussed up like a turkey clambering through the trees.
We kicked off with a safety briefing, then an instructor helps you put on your harness and adjust it so you’re completely safe. The instructor then takes you through a short demo course where you practice attaching yourself to the various obstacles and moving between the crossings, zip wires and Tarzan nets.
It’s very different to the junior course, where kids and adults are connected onto a safety wire and never leave it – here you are responsible for attaching, disconnecting and re-attaching at each obstacle. It’s very safe, providing you follow the rules, but it makes sense that kids need to be under close supervision.
Now, it has to be said that I am not presently at the *cough* peak of physical condition, so I was a bit nervous setting out – but faced with two excited kids, I basically had no choice but to throw myself into it.
Not with any dignity, but I survived.
My first highlight came on the Stage One course (there are five circuits to complete) when I swung out from a platform into a vertical cargo net, and had to climb up to get to the platform.
Now, I’m sure there’s some clever scientific reason why climbing a vertical cargo net is so freakin’ hard but honestly, if it wasn’t for the Super Encouraging 14-year-old instructor underneath cajoling me on (and the memory of seeing my ex-husband get winched off one of these courses – obviously I blogged about it) I think I might have given up there and then.
Still, I made it. Having two 10 year olds in front of me, saying super supportive things like, “Oh my God, I think she’s going to fall off!” and “Shall I film you?” helped a lot.
After that, there were lots more obstacles which were mostly fine, it’s just a case of keeping your balance and taking it steady. It’s a lot of fun and not too scary, or physically challenging. Although it should be said that if you’re 10, Go Ape is all about flinging yourself off a platform as hard as you can, and laughing hysterically when you fall off and end up suspended from the trees on your safety rope.
Clambering across a second vertical cargo net DID almost kill me, but I made it, although the retching sound I made when I crawled like a drunk slug onto the platform at the other side of the net might have made it sound like a close call.
The zip wires on this course are obviously quite a bit higher than on the kids’ course and if you’re with kids, they have to go in front on zip lines so that you can check they have clipped themselves in correctly – blue karabiner through the pulley, red karabiner behind it – before they jump.
I was very careful checking the kids’ cables before each zip wire. Naturally.
It’s possible, though, I was a little less careful checking my own and jumped off the third zip line having connected my cables incorrectly. I was connected, but I couldn’t move. I slid about six feet down the wire – and stopped. Fifty feet in the air.
There are a lot of things that go through your head when you’re dangling in the air attached to a zip wire.
“This is SO me,” is probably one of the first.
My humiliation was thankfully short – the guy behind me on the course was very tall, and managed to grab my hand and pull me back onto the platform.
Still. Not my finest hour.
After that, I had the kids check MY connections before the zip wires. I might also have indulged in a five minute sit down and a cold drink along with a sorry-for-myself-moment while Flea said it was really, honestly okay if I didn’t want to do any more, and I said, “I have to because: MATERNAL GUILT.”
Actually, we all finished the course in about three hours, and despite the trauma, it was a lot of fun.
Having experienced both Delamere and Grizedale locations, I would say that they’re both fantastic but the setting and set-up at Grizedale is my favourite – there’s a large children’s play area, loads of green space and a really lovely cafe and visitor centre, and of course you’re in the heart of the Lakes, so it’s perfect to build into a family day out.
Have you ever tried a Go Ape course? Did you also find yourself wondering if specialist teams would need to come and rescue you because your arms had locked around a cargo net and your feet refused to move? Or just me…?
Go Ape Video Highlights
Check out highlights of our day at GoApe, including two small girls laughing hysterically at my near-tragedy…